If I could pick my favorite place to travel with kids so far, it would be Turkey. People adore kids here and seem much more tolerant of kids *gasp* acting like kids.
People LOVE kids in Turkey
I've never seen anything like it. One time, a woman came sprinting out of her home to give our kids candy and homemade bread. It is so sweet, but just know that your kids are going to be handed a lot of candy. Our daughter was kissed a lot by strangers, and that didn't sit well with me, or her. I've heard this isn't that common, but just know it could happen. I tried to stop it, but sometimes I didn't see it coming.
Consider renting a car
We couldn't have seen our favorite places without renting a car. If you are just sticking to Istanbul, a car is completely unnecessary. However, if you're planning on seeing more of the country, I highly recommend renting a car. We always rent through rentalcars.com because we find the cheapest rates there. We traveled throughout a lot of the country and the roads are well maintained and people drive pretty respectfully. Other than times you have to squeeze between cars on a skinny road, I didn't find it too difficult.
With that said, if you do get a car, I suggest renting the smallest one you can for your family (we had a small hatchback for a family of 5) and also bring your own carseats. I should also note that, after driving here for a month and a half, I'm still confused about the speed limits--which is unfortunate because there's radar and cameras throughout main highways and roads.
For carseats, I recommend
The Bubble Bum inflatable booster for big kids
The WayB Pico carseat and bag forward facing toddlers and kids (it's pricey, but SO worth it. Especially if you plan on having more than one child.
Cosco Scenera Next for young babies
Find kid-friendly restaurants and cafes
I said before that Turkish people love kids, but I'm actually wondering if they just love parents? Throughout the country, we found multiple restaurants with a nice seating area right next to a playground, trampoline, or area where kids could play around. Yes! You heard that right. I've been saying that every coffee shop on earth should have something like this, and Turkey is well on it's way!
Choose just a few places to visit
Once you get deep into all there is to do and see in Turkey with kids and just in general, you'll want to travel everywhere. It's a country so diverse in it's landscape as well as historical landmarks dotted all around, you could spend years here and not see it all.
So what's the best place to go in Turkey with kids?
There's honestly no best place but rather what's best for you. I would just choose what's most important for you to see. Is it the fairy chimney's in Cappadocia? The towering green hills of Rize? The turquoise blue of the Mediterranean? Whatever it is, make sure you don't try to cram it all in during one trip. Minimal travel days and more time to play and explore means happier traveling kids.
Bring a stroller
You might disagree with me and curse my name while you're walking around Istanbul, but despite some difficult cobblestone roads that we encountered, I'm so happy we brought our stroller.
I should mention that we happen to have a tiny little stroller that folds up small enough to go in the overhead compartment, so it's not an issue when we have to throw it into our tiny rental car, and it's so small that even if we didn't use it, it's not a big deal.
The stroller I speak of is the GB Pockit and I'm truly obsessed. We've traveled with it everywhere for the last 6 years and it's endured a lot of rugged streets and saved our backs many times. If you're interested, check it out here.
Alternatively, there is another travel stroller that's the best on the market (but the price tag shows it). If I went back and did it all again knowing we have 3 kids and how much we would havve used a traveling stroller, I would have bought the Yoyo stroller. It also folds down to fit in an overhead compartment, but it's so versatile. It has a bassinet attachment, a roller board attachment for bigger kids, it reclines all the way down, and has an impressive amount of storage space. My heart truly pitter patters when I see this stroller and I highly recommend it.
Choose the right time of year to go
In a lot of places, summer is the high season. However, after being here in September and October, experiencing pretty hot days (even in the mountains) I can't imagine traveling around Turkey with kids in the summer. Not only do you see less crowds in the shoulder and off-season, the weather is cooler, more enjoyable, and better for your kids to run around and play.
Your kids will love the food in Turkey
Ok, I guess I don't know your kids, but Turkey has great food that most kids will love. You can always find doner for a quick meal on the street or more involved foods for a sit down meal.
Enjoy your time in this wonderful country! Traveling in Turkey with kids has been one of my most favorite trips ever! I hope you feel the same.
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